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Two McKees Rocks men arrested in ongoing heroin probe

| Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 12:09 p.m.

Two McKees Rocks men on Friday became the latest suspects arrested in the hunt for the source of a lethal drug combination.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Narcotics Enforcement Team searched a house on Shingiss Street in McKees Rocks and recovered about 70 grams of suspected raw heroin — an amount that could be divided into 7,000 or more individual doses, depending on how much of it would be combined with other substances, said Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

State police and officers from McKees Rocks, North Versailles, Stowe and Swissvale were involved in the search for and arrests of Andre Woods, 45, and Damany Hayes, 30. The specific charges were not released.

Authorities seized 350 stamp bags packaged for distribution. A stamp bag typically sells for about $10.

The seized bags were not labeled, Manko said.

Investigators made undercover buys this week leading to the search and arrests based on information from a victim who overdosed by using stamp bags labeled “Theraflu,” Manko said.

The county forensic lab confirmed tests of bags stamped “Theraflu” and “Bud Ice” contained heroin and fentanyl, a powerful painkiller. The Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed 14 deaths in Allegheny County in the past two weeks from the fentanyl-laced heroin and suspects there could be two more. The fentanyl is believed to be manufactured in a clandestine lab.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has reported that at least seven other overdose deaths in Western Pennsylvania could be connected to the deadly combination.

The lab will test the drugs seized in McKees Rocks, Manko said.

Authorities fear drug dealers could or have begun to rebrand the heroin-fentanyl mix under different street names.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration are involved in the investigation.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Friday asked DEA officials in Washington to increase aid to Pennsylvania.

“It's critical that residents remain vigilant and that the DEA work with state and local law enforcement to make every effort to get this drug off the street,” said Casey, D-Scranton.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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